Today Pep Guardiola will lead his army to Elland Road. It was the first time he set foot in this stadium, and also the first time he met “teacher” Marcelo Bielsa in the Premier League.
Before Leeds welcomed Man City in Elland Road, Pep and Bielsa had practically fought each other three times. That was nine seasons ago, when Bielsa was at Atlethic Bilbao. At San Mames, it took until 90 + 1 for Pep’s Barca to equalize 2-2 thanks to Lionel Messi, after Bilbao’s Fernando Amorebieta was sent off. It was a good game, a real brainstorming.
In the return season, Barca won 2-0. If you only look at the dancing of the numbers, it is easy to say that the student has won against the teacher. But if you look at the players’ dances, not many people are sure of the victory mentioned above. Football is sometimes determined by the moment of the situation. Just for a moment of the situation, one is at the top, one is back into darkness.
Many people still wonder about the story of why Pep considers Bielsa a teacher. When and where did Pep learn Bielsa, and what? And why does a student have so many titles while the teacher is so poor in achievement, if not having failed many times? In the short term, let’s solve the second question with another question, “Do all the teachers of Einstein or Stephen Hawking have to be better and more accomplished than them?”
In 2006, after retiring as a player, Pep was prompted by a coaching career as many judges learned a lot from Johan Cruyff, Van Gaal, Bobby Robson, Carlos Mazzone. and Fabio Capello, especially in methods. But Pep is in no hurry for that. He flew to Argentina, where he wanted to meet other masters: Luis Cesar Menotti, Ricardo La Volpe … He wanted to learn more.
Menotti, after meeting Pep, remarked that “He did not come here to ask us for further advice. In fact, he already knows all”. That is a sincere commendation. But Pep still felt not enough.
That exchange is full, just like a match. Starting from curious exploration about each other, progressing to heated debates, followed by both computer analysis, technical reviews … and finally sharing about a common obsession with a philosophy of comprehensive control (including control of the ball, control of space, control of the game and how to have his team play “the lead” in the game). At times, they even needed to illustrate, they even forced David Trueba to perform his stigmatization with … the chairs.
Between them there are many similarities in football, but in addition to the factor that is haunted by the philosophy of comprehensive control, there is also an attitude factor in football. And when Bielsa shared that “the team can play sometimes or not but the ability will depend on inspiration and effort, it depends on each player, with the most important attitude: no compromise”. Pep nodded and recorded every word of that statement. Up to now, it is still the guideline for his actions.
When he saw Pep off the gate of the mansion, Bielsa asked a very sincere question “You, a man who understands every corner of football, knows the lies of the people in the world, but still Why are you going back to football as a coach? Pep replied briefly: “I need that bloodline”.
Bielsa also began to admire Pep from that day. He is considered the el loco, the “old man” in football, but he also sees a madness lurking in Pep’s calm and elegant appearance. And Bielsa gave Pep a valuable advice when facing the media in football “don’t consider big TV channels more important than small newspapers”. That advice, Pep applied immediately when working at Barca with his law “allowing one-on-one interviews to avoid feeling this place is favored over there”.
And Pep’s respect for Bielsa is most evident in the third time their two teams meet in Spain. May 25, 2012, at Vicente Calderon, Pep had his last match as captain of Barca. It was the King’s Cup final, and opposite Pep was Biel’s Bilbao